Crustal evolution, intra-cratonic architecture and the metallogeny of an Archaean craton
D. R. Mole, M. L. Fiorentini, K. F. Cassidy, C. L. Kirkland, N. Thebaud, T. C. McCuaig, M. P. Doublier, P. Duuring, S. S. Romano, R. Maas, E. A. Belousova, S. J. Barnes, J. Miller, 2015. "Crustal evolution, intra-cratonic architecture and the metallogeny of an Archaean craton", Ore Deposits in an Evolving Earth, G. R. T. Jenkin, P. A. J. Lusty, I. Mcdonald, M. P. Smith, A. J. Boyce, J. J. Wilkinson
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The generation of the Earth’s continental crust modified the composition of the mantle and provided a stable, buoyant reservoir capable of capturing mantle material and ultimately preserving ore deposits. Within the continental crust, lithospheric architecture and associated cratonic margins are a first-order control on camp-scale mineralization. Here we show that the evolving crustal architecture of the Archaean Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, played a key role in controlling the localization of camp-scale gold, iron and nickel mineralized systems. The age and source characteristics of Archaean lithosphere are heterogeneous in both space and time and are recorded by the varying Nd isotopic signature of crustal rocks. Spatial and temporal variations in isotopic character document the evolution of an intra-cratonic architecture through time, and in doing so map transient lithospheric discontinuities where gold, nickel and iron mineral systems were concentrated. Komatiite-hosted nickel deposits cluster into camps localized within young, juvenile crust at the isotopic margin with older lithosphere; orogenic gold systems are typically localized along major structures within juvenile crust; and banded iron formation (BIF)-hosted iron deposits are localized at the edge of, and within, older lithospheric blocks. Furthermore, this work shows that crustal evolution plays an important role in the development and localization of favourable sources of nickel, gold and iron by controlling the occurrence of thick BIFs, ultramafic lavas and fertile (juvenile) crust, respectively. Fundamentally, this study demonstrates that the lithospheric architecture of a craton can be effectively imaged by isotopic techniques and used to identify regions prospective for camp-scale mineralization.
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Ore deposits form by a variety of natural processes that concentrate elements into a volume that can be economically mined. Their type, character and abundance reflect the environment in which they formed and thus they preserve key evidence for the evolution of magmatic and tectonic processes, the state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and the evolution of life over geological time. This volume presents 13 papers on topical subjects in ore deposit research viewed in the context of Earth evolution. These diverse, yet interlinked, papers cover topics including: controls on the temporal and spatial distribution of ore deposits; the sources of fluid, gold and other components of orogenic gold deposits; the degree of oxygenation in the Neoproterozoic ocean; bacterial immobilization of gold in the semi-arid near-surface environment; and mineral resources for the future, including issues of resource estimation, sustainability of supply and the criticality of certain elements to society.